Mike on Crime

with Mike McIntyre

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  • How could a parent hurt their child?

    It has been a particularly depressing week across Canada and the U.S. for stories of parents who have caused unspeakable harm to their children.As a father of two amazing kids, I've never understood how a parent can sink to such depths and cause pain to those who look to them for love, guidance, comfort and protection.I have nothing but absolute contempt for anyone who can take out whatever frustrations they have in life on an innocent child.And don't even get me started on tired excuses such as "I was beaten as a child myself and don't know any better".That doesn't buy you any sympathy. It makes your acts even worse, since you of all people should know better given your first-hand experience as a victim.Here's just a sampling of the headlines which have emerged in the past few days, along with links to the stories:-Quebec mother sentenced for whipping daughter, burning her with iron-Calgary father who molested three-week-old baby jailed 10 1/2 years-New Brunswick woman convicted in death of two-year-old daughter-Quebec woman to appeal 30-month prison sentence for injuring baby in her care-Restraint may have been used on toddler for two years before she died, inquest hears-Toronto father charged in eight-year-old daughter's death-Florida mother acquitted of child abuse in daughter's genital piercing-North Carolina mom put baby's body in attic, police sayThat's a staggering eight major stories in one week. Got a thought on how to better protect children from their own parents? Share it below.
  • The Harvey-Zenk decision

    838t[1].jpg In case you missed it, we've obtained the entire verbatim transcript of Chief Judge Ray Wyant's controversial decision in the Derek Harvey-Zenk deadly driving case. (Click HERE and follow the link)Harvey-Zenk, of course, avoided a jail term this week which has triggered a wave of public anger that has led to Manitoba Justice Minister Dave Chomiak ordering a public inquiry.Wyant — in handing down a conditional sentence Monday — said this case is the “perfect storm” for public cynicism and scrutiny.From the botched police investigation into the February 2005 crash that killed Crystal Taman, to the plea bargain which saw all alcohol-related charges dropped, it has been a mess from the start.Wyant surprised many legal observers when he candidly spoke in court about what the public “really believes” happened in this case.Now that you can read exactly what Wyant said and how he arrived at his decision, I'd be curious to know if your views on this case have changed at all.Have a read of it, and then post your thoughts below.Justice officials certainly won't be able to rely on the familiar refrain of "if only the public were better informed" to try and defend this debacle.
  • Sucking and blowing

    822t[1].jpg Manitoba's chief provincial court Judge Ray Wyant decided this week to do something "outside the box" in an attempt to restore some faith in a justice system he admits is in rough shape.And how did his colleagues on the bench respond to his innovative, precedent-setting idea?In a nutshell, by throwing a big ol' hissy fit that forced Wyant to change his mind.Apparently they all got their robes in a knot over the thought that - gasp! - the public might actually gain some greater insight into how, and why, they are handing down their verdicts and sentencings.In case you missed my story in Wednesday's Free Press (click HERE to read), Wyant had agreed to allow a live audio broadcast of next week's high-profile decision surrounding a former Winnipeg police officer involved in a deadly crash.Local talk-radio station CJOB had made the initial request, and Wyant decided that this would be the case to break some new ground. He would allow a "pool" microphone to send a feed from his courtroom across the airwaves.This would mean that anybody who wants to could listen to every single word of a decision that is sure to be extremely controversial.To recap, Derek Harvey-Zenk killed a mother of three after slamming into her stopped vehicle following a night of partying with his police colleagues after their shift had ended. There was definitely drinking involved, and Harvey-Zenk refused a breathalyser demand.However, massive problems with the investigation by the much-maligned East St. Paul police service - including how and when the breath demand was made - apparently forced the Crown to drop all alcohol-related charges.Submissions were made on the case several weeks ago, with both Crown and defence lawyers making a joint-recommendation for a conditional sentence that would spare Harvey-Zenk a jail term.The family of victim Crystal Taman howled in protest. The public responded in anger, flooding local talk shows and penning letters to the editor. And Wyant was clearly uncomfortable with the proposal, even requested lawyers to return to court last month to answer additional questions and make further submissions.Even then, Wyant was obviously still unhappy with the lack of information coming his way.So now, as he prepares to deliver his decision on Monday, Wyant made the decision to give the public as much information as possible.That doesn't mean he still won't be second-guessed. But at least the public would be fully informed of his exact reasons behind the decision - straight from the proverbial horse's mouth.So what's the problem with that?In my view, absolutely nothing. Judges routinely complain that the public doesn't fully understand or appreciate what they are dealing with as they try to craft the elusive "perfect" sentence.As a member of the media, I agree they have a point. Short of running a verbatim transcript of their decision in the newspaper - which space would never allow for - we are tasked with trying to sum up their reasons for judgment in a concise, accurate story that also represents the views of other parties with a stake. That means reactions from the victims, their families and even Crown and defence lawyers whenever possible.So this was their chance to make their voices heard. There would be absolutely no editing involved. It would go straight from Wyant's mouth into the ears of anyone who wanted to listen.So why did judges get so upset at this concept that they had a letter sent to Wyant expressing concerns, which indirectly came across as questioning his leadership?I certainly don't have the answers. I suspect Wyant doesn't either. Sources tell me he's as surprised at the backlash as anybody.One source said it best - "You can't suck and blow at the same time". But that's exactly what the judges who oppose this are doing.They're complaing you the public aren't nearly as informed as you need to be. And then they're standing in the way of allowing you to be better informed.This makes even less sense considering courts are public places that everyone is allowed to attend - and listen directly to a judge's decision if they wish.Of course, reality tells us the vast majority of people aren't able to take time out of their busy days to physically come to the downtown Law Courts. But giving them another medium to listen - such as on the radio of even through streaming audio on the Internet (which is a tool the Free Press would likely utilize in such a case) - is a brilliant way to bring the courtroom to the masses.Fortunately, Wyant isn't giving up. He's going to press ahead, hold a meeting with all judges and apparently table a policy that would give individual judges the discretion to choose whether to allow for broadcasts of their decisions.We know where Wyant will stand on that issue the next time a high-profile case comes before him.Let's hope other Manitoba judges follow his lead, realize this is a win-win for everybody and put away their criticism in exchange for some common sense.What do you think about this issue? Post your thoughts below, and make sure to take a second to vote on my website Jury Poll question by clicking HERE.I can tell you this - some judges may not want you to hear them. But they are definitely reading this and will hear you!
  • Getting away with murder

    166t[1].jpg A 17-year-old Winnipeg teen will step into a courtroom next week to be sentenced for the grisly February 2007 killing of Roxanne Fernando.And while he may have pleaded guilty to his crime, I firmly believe he is getting away with murder.That's because Fernando wasn't the only victim here. Her unborn child never got to take a single breath, thanks in large part to the cruel and callous actions of this youth.Yet in Canada, the baby growing inside Fernando whose life was snuffed out has no more legal rights than a park bench, stop sign or brick wall.Actually, I stand corrected. The pieces of property have MORE rights, as a person who drove their car into one or more of the above listed items would be on the hook for the damage he/she caused.This isn't the first time I've complained about the state of this particular legislation in Canada. Sadly, it likely won't be the last.And don't let the controversial abortion issue cloud this one for a single second. This has nothing to do with where you stand on a woman's right to choose.As I reported exclusively this past week, Roxanne Fernando made a choice here. Her choice was to have her baby, even when she was apparently facing tremendous pressure to abort. (Read full story HERE)And when this beautiful young woman decided not to terminate her pregnancy, the decision was made to terminate her. And her baby.Is there anyone out there that doesn't view this as a double murder?The following press release was sent to me after my story ran across the country. It was from a group called the Campaign Life Coalition and titled "The Conservative government must act to recognize violence towards women and their unborn children."fetus[1].jpg TORONTO, Oct. 18 - Another case has come forward in the media today where a young Winnipeg woman was murdered by a seventeen year old man because she refused to abort her baby. This case adds to three others, Aysun Sesen (October 2007), Olivia Talbot (December 2005) and Liana White (July 2005).“The Conservative government must act in recognizing that these four babies are indeed human beings and were brutally killed along with their mothers who wanted their babies. The murderous acts were directed at both of mother and baby,” said Jim Hughes, National President of Campaign Life Coalition (CLC).“The government cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the suffering of the grandparents who has lost both their daughters and their grandchildren,” he continued.“Roxanne Fernando was beaten to death by a seventeen year old youth who cannot be named because of his age but who has pleaded guilty to the brutal murder,” said Mary Ellen Douglas, National Organizer of CLC.“Roxanne died to protect her unborn child. Both she and her baby deserve to see justice done to the perpetrator,” she said.Campaign Life Coalition urges the federal government to deal with this issue immediately. The Prime Minister has made his justice bills front and centre in the throne speech. How about justice for the mothers and their unborn victims of violence too! Where do you stand on this? Let's get a discussion going by posting your thoughts below.I'll also have plenty more on this topic on my "Crime and Punishment" radio show, heard Sunday nights from 7-9 p.m. CST across the Corus and Rawlco radio networks.
  • Bring back the lash???

    whipping[1].gif Would Canada be a safer place if criminals faced the prospect of a painful whipping following conviction?A group of Winnipeg Rotary club members I spoke to this week certainly think it would be.I was just a few minutes into what would end up being an hour-long lunchtime chat when one of the members put up his hand, indicating he had a question."What do you think about bringing back the lash?"What followed was a lengthy explanation from the retired senior about how he'd received more than a few belts to his backside during his formative years and how he is a better person because of it.Others in the room shared similar stories, agreeing corporal punishment was certainly an effective deterrent in their younger years.And how it's a shame today's "little punks" can't face a similar fate from the justice system.The discussion certainly caught me off-guard, as I've never been one to believe in dishing out physical punishment for any reason.Call me a softie, but I don't see how flogging some troubled teen who's likely been exposed to years of abuse and/or neglect will accomplish anything.The fact is, punishment of any kind does little to actually deter criminal activity. If it did, wouldn't U.S. states that have the death penalty naturally have the lowest murder rates? Yet they clearly don't.That's because the majority of crime is committed by people who act on impulse, rarely consider the consequences and are often clouded by drugs or alcohol.That's not an excuse. It's just a reality.And I guess I'm in the camp that feels it's always better to try and address the root causes of crime - poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, broken homes, boredom.That's not to say I don't believe in severe sanctions for violent offenders, especially those who have already snubbed their noses at the chance for rehabilitation.Locking them up for a long time is fine by me and ensures they won't hurt anyone else during that period.But we're fooling ourselves if we think that type of approach will be the magical cure to crime we all would like to see.Just like the answers won't be found on a leather paddle either.
  • LAST CHANCE - Only four cabins left on 2008 "Caribbean Cruise"; Oct. 9 deadline looming

    This has quickly become our best-selling cruise ever - and now there are just a few more days left to jump on board this amazing vacation deal.545t[1].jpg Journey's Travel and Leisure Supercentre tells me there are only 4 CABINS LEFT, and that they can only be held until Oct. 9 because of the high-demand for cruising these days.If you're planning on a tropical vacation at sea this winter, I encourage you to scan the information below and call Journey's ASAP at (204) 942-5000 in Winnipeg or toll-free at 1-800-859-6354.More than 25 people have already signed up - and you'll be hard-pressed to find a better deal anywhere else!Here's a quick summary of what this cruise is all about.-You will depart Thursday January 24/08, overnight in Miami, and then depart on the ship Friday January 25 and return Sunday February 3.-You will be on board a brand new ship, the Norwegian Pearl, touring through the exotic Southern Caribbean.-You'll visit five ports of call - Tortolo, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados and the Dominican Republic. There are three days “at-sea”ONLY 4 INSIDE STATEROOMS LEFT – $1,971 per person!Price includes: Return airfare, cruise (all meals and entertainment included), hotel in Miami, Florida night before cruise, all transfers, welcome aboard cocktail party, one shore excursion (whale and dolphin watching), and Journey’s gift certificate.This is shaping up to be the most exciting of the three cruises my wife Chassity and I will have had the pleasure of hosting. Here’s why:-It is longer, 9 days instead of 7, as several of our past cruisers have expressed an interest in going for a couple more days. Who can blame them??? You won’t want to leave either!-It is on a brand new ship. The Norwegian Pearl just launched in December, so it should still have the “new ship smell” when we climb aboard!-It is more exotic. And likely hotter. And with even more to do. The Southern Caribbean ports of call are truly wonderful, and we have heard great stories about them all from many veteran cruisers. Perhaps the best part about them are the volume of off-shore excursions to choose from, which are certainly far greater then what we’ve had the first two years. It seems like there’s an activity for absolutely everyone.As you likely know, signing on for a “group” cruise is simply a great way to get a better rate. Because our sponsor, Journey’s Travel, is buying in bulk, they can secure much better pricing then what an individual couple could get.As well, it’s a great way to experience new things with like-minded folks who may end up becoming good friends.However, don’t think going with a group means you won’t get to chart your own adventure. You will have all the time in the world to do absolutely everything you like. There are no commitments whatsoever.If you’d like to simply treat it as if you were just going by yourselves – yet taking advantage of the discounted group rate – there’s nothing wrong with that.If you’d like to hang out with some of the other Canadian cruisers in the group, well, you’re more than welcome as well. In the past two years, we usually ate dinners as a group and took in a few nightly theatre shows together. But with the exception of our on-board cocktail party and the one included group excursion, everyone has tended to go their own way the remainder of the time. It’s been a perfect mix of private time and socializing.If you are thinking this would be a great way to get away for a bit this winter, don’t hesitate!You can email me for more information (mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca) or call Journeys as soon possible.PHONE: 942-5000 in Winnipeg or toll-free at 1-800-859-6354.Hope to see you on board!
  • Pardon me?!?!

    The National Parole Board has some explaining to do.I'm still stunned at last week's courtroom revelation that Manitoba justice officials had no idea their key witness in a disturbing sex assault case was actually a career criminal.Kenneth Allan began his illegal lifestyle way back in 1954 and didn't stop until 1990. In that 36-year period he racked up 88 (!) convictions for pretty much every crime in the book - indecent assault, robbery, escape custody, break-and-enter, drugs, weapons, etc.He was given more than 25 years of prison time (of course he didn't serve anywhere near that) and was also found to have violated his parole on four different occasions.Yet apparently the brains behind the NPB still felt confident enough in Allan that they agreed to wipe his slate clean and grant him a pardon sometime in the late 1990s.So when Allan suddenly found himself straying back to the dark side - and committing his most heinous crime yet - it was as if his entire criminal past didn't exist.Allan, you'll recall, admits to having sex on two occasions in 2001 with a mentally-disabled girl whose birth certificate says she was 21 but in fact was closer to six years old.And that may be generous, given the Crown's submission last week that the woman can barely even write her own name.In any event, Allan - through his lawyer - managed to make an absolute sweetheart of a plea bargain with Manitoba Justice last year.He agreed to admit guilt and testify against the co-accused - who happens to be the victim's former respite worker he claims set the sexual encounters up - in exchange for no jail sentence.The Crown was banking on the fact he was an otherwise law-abiding citizen whose credibility would stand up under rigorous cross examination.Instead, they watched their "star" witness come plummeting down to Earth after his dark secrets were uncovered.We will learn this Friday if Allan's testimony was worth anything at all when the judge rules on whether the respite worker is guilty.In the meantime, I think we all deserve an explanation on how someone with Allan's track record was able to get a pardon in the first place.Even people who make a living representing criminals on these kinds of applications are having a hard time believing it.lucy_standing[1].jpg Lucy Perillo, who works out of Winnipeg for Pardon Services, joined me on my national radio show Sunday night and said she's never seen someone with so many convictions as Allan get a pardon.Usually, she says, the applicants have one or two indiscretions they're hoping to clean up.But 88???None of this would have even been discovered if not for convictions number 89 and 90 - the two sex assaults Allan admitted to last year.That meant the parole board revoked his pardon and everything came back into play.Unfortunately, the justice system has no way of going back in time and revoking Allan's conditional sentence and giving this creep exactly what he deserves - a long stint behind bars.Keep the discussion going - and make your voice heard - by posting your thoughts below.
  • Kudos to the U of W

    767t[1].jpg The University of Winnipeg was placed in a no-win situation this week after news of a cryptic threat on a washroom stall became public.Now, granted, it was the university which made the threat public. I suppose they could have just kept the matter in-house and none of us would have been any the wiser.However, can you imagine the outcry had something actually gone down and we'd learned of the threat after the fact?So I credit school officials for taking the initial step and letting everyone know what was going on.The next step, of course, was how to react to the threat.I think there were three options here.1. Do nothing. Pretend like it never happened and simply go on with the normal daily routine.2. Panic. Shut down the entire school. Bring in wall-to-wall security. And pray nothing actually happens.3. Be sensible. Let students know what is happening. Keep everyone in the loop. Don't shut down the school, but be vigilant and have extra security on stand-by.370-uownew[1].JPG Obviously, the university chose the latter. And in my opinion, it was the only move that made sense.Doing nothing would open them up to all sorts of armchair quarterbacking, or worse. Lawsuits, anyone?Shutting down the school entirely would be sending a message to the creep who wrote the threat - along with anyone else who may have a similar idea - that it just takes a few words on a bathroom stall to completely bring a major university to its knees.So, they did the only thing that made sense. And, not surprisingly, a lot of fearful students stayed away.And nothing happened.We all realize there was probably nothing to this threat to begin with. But we live in an age where Columbine, Dawson College, Virginia Tech and so many other schools have become synonymous with tragedy.So taking it seriously - but not to the point of waving the white flag - was the perfect response.36-a3guard[1].JPG Nobody can be happy about the fact that some idiot was able to have even the slightest impact on society. Let's hope police are able to catch him, charge him and the justice system comes down hard to send its own message that this sort of thing won't be tolerated.But until we reach the stage where the threat of school violence is non-existent - don't hold your breath waiting for that, folks - this is the new reality we must live in.Agree or disagree? Post your thoughts below. This is also the subject of my latest website Jury Poll, which you can vote on by clicking HERE.
  • Bush league?

    A lot of young Winnipeggers are upset by the reaction from city police to a large "bush party" in the southwest corner of the city Friday night.That became obvious as my e-mail inbox began filling up Saturday with people angered at my story "Wild night on Charleswood Road".Some felt police made a mountain out of a molehill. Others suggested it was the officers - not the teen revellers - who were being "hostile". And some said police should just let teens be teens, essentially.I can understand their frustration. But I can also see why police would want to clamp down on such a party, given the fact teens plus testosterone plus alcohol can often equal trouble.And let's not forget it was area residents - and even some parents - who called police in to break up the festivities.Now, one might debate whether having at least 20 cruiser cars on a busy Friday night devoted to this call is a case of overkill.But as my story pointed out, one such party turned deadly last summer in Saskatoon when a young woman was stabbed to death.Anyways, I'd be curious to know where you stand on this issue. Should police have just ignored the event or were they right to come down hard?And does the fact an estimated 400 youths had gathered for this party leave you wondering what they had told their parents about what they were going to be doing that night?Post your thoughts below.
  • Are you getting enough Juice?

    2_1_1526312_w091686A[1].jpg The line between what passes for news, sports and entertainment has never been blurrier.Newscasts and newspapers are frequently leading their coverage with the latest tales of million-dollar athletes and 'A" list celebrities who find themselves in legal hot water.There's obviously a method to this madness - the public seemingly can't get enough.Or can they?1[1].jpg Websites like TMZ.com and PerezHilton.com are among the most frequented on the web. TV shows like Entertainment Tonight, The Insider and Access Hollywood stop channel surfers in their tracks.So who can blame the main networks for taking a "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" mentality?For that reason, I'm curious what you think about the O.J. Simpson gong show that is currently dominating coverage, both mainstream and tabloid (or are they now one in the same?)Unless you live in a cave - in which I'd be really interested to know how you're reading this! - you simply can't avoid this "mega-story."But that doesn't mean you have to like it.So fess up.Are you glued to your TV sets, spending hours surfing the Web and salivating at the thought of picking up a fresh batch of magazines at the grocery store this weekend?Are you disgusted at the fact this is what passes for news and can't believe far more relevant stories - there's still a war going on, right? - are being passed over?Or are you greeting this all with a collective yawn and simply going about your daily business, not wasting a single brain cell wondering if the O.J. tape was doctored, whether the Goldman family will get their proceeds and who Nancy Grace has lined up to yell at tonight?Post your thoughts below - and click HERE to vote on my latest Jury Poll question on this very topic.
  • Bring the Angels to Winnipeg

    GuardianAngels-Compress[1].jpg So the Guardian Angels are interested in expanding their Canadian presence and patrolling the streets of Winnipeg.Nobody asked me but...how soon can they get here?Curtis Sliwa, the outspoken founder/leader of the controversial New York-based organization, was a guest this past Sunday on my "Crime and Punishment" national radio show.I'd brought him on to talk about his group's recent "graduation" ceremony in Alberta and comments Sliwa had made about a "crisis in crime" he said was occurring in both Calgary and Edmonton.It wasn't long before talk quickly turned to Winnipeg.After all, we were at the tail end of a weekend which had seen two men killed, another two shot and wounded and another pair stabbed in six apparently separate incidents.And those were just the crimes Winnipeg police had released to the public. (More on that in a future post)Sliwa was stunned by what he was hearing and immediately lumped Winnipeg into the same category as Calgary and Edmonton - which he'd previously compared to major U.S. cities battling huge crime rates.A few callers quickly jumped on Sliwa for what they felt was an unfair analysis. Others, however, thought he was right on the mark.26187_233627[1]1.jpg Sliwa said Winnipeg is ripe for his group to set up shop. Wearing their trademark red berets, the Guardian Angels are comprised of unarmed volunteers who receive three months training in martial arts and self-defence and patrol crime-ridden neighbourhoods in groups of four or more.What has made them somewhat controversial in some people's eyes is the fact they will exercise their right to make citizen's arrests when they see trouble unfolding.This has left police and politicians in some communities fearful of endorsing what they see as a group of vigilantes.I don't buy it. All we ever seem to hear from police is how backlogged they are, how resources are being stretched to the limit and how response times aren't what they should be.Barely a day goes by at the Free Press that we don't hear from someone complaining about the actions - or inactions - of the police.At any given time on any given day, there may be dozens or perhaps hundreds of calls for service waiting in the queue.That's not acceptable. And police would be the first to admit it. They're doing all they can under trying circumstances and clearly need help.Enter the Guardian Angels. Can anyone honestly say the thought of a large group of visible members walking through the North End and downtown areas in the middle of the night wouldn't offer some comfort that currently isn't there?The Guardian Angels are currently in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto. Sliwa said Halifax will be their next stop, with Regina and Saskatoon to follow soon.So what is Winnipeg waiting for?Sliwa said he will visit the city later this fall to make a personal pitch. Let's hope local leaders roll out the red carpet for the red berets.
  • ONLY A HANDFUL OF CABINS LEFT! Information about a Caribbean cruise adventure that can't be beat!

    Ahoy!Well, we're just over four months away from the 2008 Caribbean Cruise that my wife, Chassity, and I are honoured to be hosting for a third straight year and the response has been overwhelming!545t[1].jpg If you're currently thinking about your winter travel plans, I invite you to read the information below. I promise you won't find a better deal anywhere!As well, we are also hosting a “CRUISE INFORMATION NIGHT” on Tuesday, September 25 at 7 P.M. in Winnipeg.We’d love you to join us for a fun night for info/daydreaming. It’s being held at Journeys Travel and Leisure Centre, 102-326 Wardlaw Avenue at Donald. Just phone 942-5000 in Winnipeg or toll-free at 1-800-859-6354 to let the folks at Journeys know you'll be attending.CRUISE INFO:You will depart Thursday January 24/08, overnight in Miami, and then depart on a 9-day cruise Friday January 25, returning Sunday February 3.You will be on board a brand new ship, the Norwegian Pearl, touring through the exotic Southern Caribbean.You will make five ports of call in Tortolo, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados and the Dominican Republic. There are three days “at-sea”PRICES:Prices include: Return airfare, cruise, hotel in Miami, Florida night before cruise, all transfers, welcome aboard cocktail party, one shore excursion, $25 Journey’s gift certificate.INSIDE STATEROOM – $1,971 per personOCEAN VIEW STATEROOM – $2,191 per personBALCONY – $2,957 per personOTHER INFO:We only have 20 cabins blocked off this year and interest has been really high since I started mentioning it on my weekly national radio show and website. Journey’s has also been doing weekly newspaper advertising.At last check only five or six cabins are remaining!This is shaping up to be the most exciting of the three cruises we will have done, in our opinion. Here’s why:-It is longer, 9 days instead of 7, as several of our past cruisers have expressed an interest in going for a couple more days. Who can blame them??? You won’t want to leave either!-It is on a brand new ship. The Norwegian Pearl just launched in December, so it should still have the “new ship smell” when we climb aboard next January! One of the coolest features – a 10-pin bowling alley on board!-It is more exotic. And likely hotter. And with even more to do. The Southern Caribbean ports of call are truly wonderful, and we have heard great stories about them all from many veteran cruisers. Perhaps the best part about them are the volume of off-shore excursions to choose from, which are certainly far greater then what we’ve had the first two years. It seems like there’s an activity for absolutely everyone.As you likely know, signing on for a “group” cruise is simply a great way to get a better rate. Because our sponsor, Journey’s Travel, is buying in bulk, they can secure much better pricing then what an individual couple could get.As well, it’s a great way to experience new things with like-minded folks who may end up becoming good friends.However, don’t think going with a group means you won’t get to chart your own adventure. You will have all the time in the world to do absolutely everything you like. There are no commitments whatsoever.If you’d like to simply treat it as if you were just going by yourselves – yet taking advantage of the discounted group rate – there’s nothing wrong with that.If you’d like to hang out with some of the other Canadian cruisers in the group, well, you’re more than welcome as well. In the past two years, we usually ate dinners as a group and took in a few nightly theatre shows together. But with the exception of our on-board cocktail party and the one included group excursion, everyone has tended to go their own way the remainder of the time. It’s been a perfect mix of private time and socializing.This year, the eating situation is a little bit different. Our boat has 13 different restaurants to choose from and something called “Freestyle Cruising” which basically gives you the option to eat whenever you want, whereever you want. This obviously could change our ability to eat as a group, but we’d like to try and make an effort to get as many people together for dinners each evening in the same place at the same time as we’ve really enjoyed spending that extra time together getting to know everyone while sharing amazing five-course meals!So, if you are thinking this would be a great way to getaway for a bit next winter, don’t hesitate!You can email me for more information (mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca) or call Journeys as soon possible.PHONE: 942-5000 in Winnipeg or toll-free at 1-800-859-6354 Hope to see you on board!
  • Colour me yellow

    507-X00196_9[1].jpg I learned a long time ago not to simply look at complex legal issues in black and white. Quite often, I've found, there are many complicated shades of grey.But yellow? Well, I hadn't thought much of the colour - at least not until a Winnipeg lawyer accused me Wednesday of "yellow journalism".That's an inside term that refers to sensational, perhaps unethical and certainly irresponsible work on behalf of a reporter.And it's not an allegation I take lightly. Or appreciate, for that matter - especially when it's made on the public record in a courtroom filled with more than 100 people.334-X00248_9[1].jpg Yet Marty Minuk - a private lawyer I have all the respect in the world for who was hired by the Manitoba justice department to prosecute a Winnipeg police officer - decided to colour my reputation with a baseless cheap shot.A little background...Minuk, along with defence lawyer Richard Wolson, were figuratively called to the principal's office Wednesday morning to justify the highly controversial plea bargain they have pitched for Derek Harvey-Zenk.The former Winnipeg cop, you'll recall, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death for the February 2005 crash that killed Crystal Taman, a 40-year-old mother of three.Despite the fact Harvey-Zenk admitted he was out drinking and partying in the hours preceding the crash - and then refused a police demand for a breathalyser - all alcohol charges were dropped by Minuk.703t[1].jpg Without even the slightest explanation to the victim's family, the court or the public.So when it became apparent that Chief provincial court Judge Ray Wyant was having great difficultly with the suggested conditional sentence, Minuk and Wolson were summoned back to court for further submissionsBut in the few weeks which passed since the initial sentencing hearing, people have started asking questions. Especially the victim's family, who are certainly entitled to better treatment then they've received.So myself, along with some other reporters, started digging around. Some people started talking. And some answers started coming.Among the developments which I have reported on:246-X00175_9[1].jpg -Some East St. Paul police officers have accused their former chief, Harry Bakema, of ordering them in advance not to refer in their notes about Harvey-Zenk's alcohol consumption following the deadly crash. Bakema, through his lawyer, has denied the claims.-Retired RCMP officer Robert Tramley, who spearheaded a review of the East. St. Paul detachment following Bakema's firing in 2006, told me the plea bargain with Harvey-Zenk is a "travesty" and said the case should have gone to trial.-A paramedic at the scene of the deadly crash noted "a strong smell of alcohol" coming from Harvey-Zenk. That fact was included in Tramley's review.-Bakema is a former Winnipeg police officer who worked in the same North End district as Harvey-Zenk before he left to go to East St. Paul. Bakema has denied working directly with Harvey-Zenk but said he recognized him at the scene of the crash. Bakema apparently felt there were no grounds for a breath demand - even though another officer (Norm Carter, now the Chief) felt there was when he saw Harvey-Zenk NEARLY AN HOUR LATER.chomiak040117[1].jpg -Manitoba Justice Minister Dave Chomiak has called for a full public review of the East St. Paul detachment regarding their handling of this, and other, cases.-Questions have been raised about Manitoba Justice's decision to appoint Minuk as Crown counsel, given the fact he has previously defended police officers and had recently completed work on a manslaughter case working alongside Harvey-Zenk's lawyer, Richard Wolson. Justice officials have defended the decision to farm the case out of their own department to Minuk, saying they must avoid a perception of bias given that Crowns regularly work closely with police.It is perhaps that final one which had Minuk the most upset. He has somehow confused reporting on his background and the policies of Manitoba Justice as calling his ethics into question. Nothing could be further from the truth.As you can read HERE in my original story, I clearly stated there are no suggestions Minuk has done anything wrong and he is a well-respected lawyer. Yet the story talked about "optics" - the very reason Manitoba Justice said their own very competent staff Crowns were apparently unable to prosecute Harvey-Zenk."It wouldn't look right" is the general answer given, because the Crown often work closely with police. Never mind the fact you could easily find numerous prosecutors who'd never even met Harvey-Zenk, it was all about the appearance.And that's fine. But it's perfectly fair then to ask how the appearance of Minuk's role in the case is somehow better, given his role as a defence lawyer, close (and very recent) working relationship with Wolson and the fact he's previously represented cops.All fair questions.Yet Minuk is now up in arms. Even Wolson called the reporting "scandalous" in court on Wednesday.Scandalous??? Funny, that's a word many are using to describe the debacle the Harvey-Zenk case has become.And the case only sunk into further chaos after Wednesday.Wyant - admitting he is struggling with his decision - was practically begging both lawyers to give him more information about circumstances surrounding the crash.He even offered to pause the hearing so that Minuk could call evidence about the eight or so hours that passed between the end of Harvey-Zenk's shift and the deadly crash.Wyant was especially interested in hearing more about Harvey-Zenk's drinking that night.Seemed like a perfectly logical request - especially after you hear the Taman family say they were told at one point the Crown had 33 witnesses lined up to testify. Some of those surely had to be the other cops who were with Harvey-Zenk. And what about the paramedic at the scene?Yet Minuk rejected Wyant's offer. He didn't even consult with the Taman family. Or explain to the court why he wouldn't provide any more information. He just said 'No'.And so a clearly frustrated Wyant retreated into his chambers, saying he needs more time to mull over a case in which he candidly admits to being somewhat in the dark about, at least in terms of potentially important issues.And the Taman family was left, once again, wondering what the hell just happened. And what exactly is being hidden from them.There's no doubt Minuk, Wolson and Harvey-Zenk wish this case would have just quietly fell beneath the radar and been quickly disposed of.Thank goodness it didn't.I wish I knew all the answers. I've managed to dig up some of them, and I will continue trying to find out the rest.If that's what constitutes shoddy journalism, then colour me Yellow.Thoughts? Post them below, please and thanks.
  • Preview for Sunday Sept. 16 "Crime and Punishment" national radio show

    old_fashion_radio_microphone_hg_wht[1].gif Folks,The weather may be cooling off - but we're just getting warmed up for another jam-packed edition of Canada's only open-line national justice affairs talk show."Crime and Punishment" airs across the Corus and Rawlco radio networks and can be heard from 7-9 p.m. central time every Sunday.(You can always listen live online by clicking HERE, or catch the show after the fact by going to the following AUDIO VAULT and simply plugging in the date and time)Also, if you'd like show previews such as this e-mailed directly to you every Saturday - along with breaking news alerts on major crime and justice stories - please take a second to join my website mailing list by clicking HERE. It's quick, easy and free.Here's a look at what's planned for this Sunday's show:GUESTS:26187_233627[1].jpg CURTIS SLIWA - Founder/leader of the Guardian Angels will discuss his recent comments about a crime "crisis" in Alberta, expansion plans to Saskatchewan and which province is next on his controversial group's radar. Read story HERE.SANDY MUNROE - Nova Scotia man has just returned from visiting his wife in England and is closer to finally bringing her home following a recent court ruling. The elderly woman, who suffers from Alzheimer's, has been at the centre of a lengthy battle after Munroe claims family members "kidnapped" her without his consent. Read story HERE.51syUCOshgL._AA240_[1].jpg BOB TARANTINO - Toronto lawyer/author/blogger will discuss his new book, "Under Arrest: Canadian Laws You Won't Believe" in which he examines the lighter, stranger side of the Criminal Code. Click HERE for more details on the book.MIKE COOK - Defence lawyer representing five Chinese migrants from Ontario will discuss a high-profile criminal trial in which they claimed to have been tricked into working on a $19 million Manitoba marijuana farm. Read story HERE.OTHER STORIES WE WILL DISCUSS (all of them, and more, can be found at www.mikeoncrime.com)-winnipeg soldier charged with brutally assaulting his triplets-manitoba teen accused of killing sister, stepmother was exposed to cocaine in womb, court hears-convicted drug dealer gets new trial after calgary judge fell asleep during sentencing-oops! name of youth mistakenly charged with murder appears on nova scotia court docket-sex offender released in new brunswick, arrested in bc later in day-rejected by city, soup kitchen volunteers turn to hells angels-police say mass b.c. killer answered 911 dispatcher's call-defence begins calling case in pickton trial-supreme court convicts man in strange sex assault case-judge convicted of sex crimes denied day parole-coach head-butted by angry dad wins damages-police accuse man of posing as doctor then exposing self to women at UBC-gang-related shooting near langley school-police officer shoots pitbull that mauled woman-man accused of threatening alberta premier to go straight to trial-alberta teen girl gets probation for obstruction of justice in family slaying case-man wanted in shooting outside calgary movie theatre turns himself in-massive meth shipment seized in calgary-inmate tells saskatchewan police commission it was friend that left teen to freeze-saskatchewan teen charged with mischief after false claims of assault-no witnesses to broad daylight slaying in winnipeg, jury told-retired winnipeg doctor turned tables on nigerian scam artist-cops pulled plug on undercover robbery sting over fears of bloodshed-no jail for man who brokered disturbing online sex trade with teen-missing bong sparks machete madness-dad charged with killing infant after lengthy probe-ex-toronto cop goes on trial for murder-teen stabbed to death outside toronto school-police lay charge in crash that left jacksoul lead singer critically injured-dawson college marks tragic anniversary-bedard's breach of custody trial beginsINTERNATIONAL-police say kidnapping of black woman was hate crime-mother of slain girl known as "precious doe" pleads guilty-o.j simpson investigated for armed robbery-parents named as suspects in missing maddy case-leader of polygamist sect goes on trial over teen cousins wedding-chris benoit's diary released-jury finds for ex-detroit cops against mayor and city-five found guilty in chicago mob trial-mother pleads guilty to abducting twins from adoptive parents, fleeing to canada-trial opens in new york for canadian biker accused of blowing up informant-new jersey cops capture confessed killer who escaped from mental hospital-tennessee conducts first electric chair execution since 1960-anti-war protester can't find soldier, kills civillian with axe instead-two suspects killed as gunmen break into armed transport company-german police arrest suspect in stabbing of rabbi-accused in russian chessboard murders lured victims with vodkaODDLY-74-year-old fights off would-be mugger-michigan man caught red handed by his own burglar booby trap-man, 70, charged with auto theft day after release from jail-rivalry gone bad; football fan nearly castrated in bloody bar brawl-judge makes house call to ensure accused is sick-police say minnesota robber licked woman's toes-bank robber used his own cheque to write note-man dubbed hat bandit admits to 18 bank robberies-undercover cops hook trio selling catfish bait mixed with vinegar
  • Doped or duped?

    marijuana-mar-com-1[1].jpg Wilful blindness - it's a term we don't often hear in the justice system.But five Chinese migrants are hoping it won't be their ticket to a criminal conviction.The group - along with 23 others yet to go on trial - were busted in October 2005 inside a massive Manitoba marijuana grow operation in which police seized an estimated $19 million (street value) in pot.While the alleged mastermind was somehow able to sneak out of Canada and has never been arrested, the down-and-out labourers who were pulled off the streets of Toronto with the promise of some quick, easy cash are left to face the legal music.Mike Cook, the lawyer representing the five who went on trial this week, claims his clients should be found not guilty because they didn't know what they were getting into. (Read story HERE)The Crown doesn't buy their excuse, arguing these accused must have realized they were being pulled into an illegal enterprise.And if the promise of up to $300 a day didn't do it, what they saw upon arrival in rural Manitoba surely must have, the Crown says.All five accused have now testified in their own defence - through translators - and are sticking to their stories that they were innocent dupes.Some thought they were on a fruit and vegetable farm. Another man believed he was harvesting "Chinese medicinal herbs".It's an interesting case. With an even more interesting defence. We may have a verdict by the end of the week.In the meantime, what do you think? Guilty or not guilty? And are you, like some folks who have written to me, ticked that police poured so many resources into a marijuana operation? Or was this money well spent?
  • The court of public opinion

    b082789A[1].jpg Well knock me over with a feather.Seems like the general public doesn't believe Conrad Black got a raw deal during his high-profile fraud trial in Chicago.Our most recent www.mikeoncrime.com "Jury Poll" had only 29 per cent support for Lord Black's quest to get his convictions tossed out of court and a new trial ordered.The other 71 per cent believed Black was rightfully convicted and should be preparing to take his legal medicine.I update the Jury Poll question every few days and it's always interesting to take the pulse of the people on hot-button topics of the day.Some other recent "verdicts" rendered by the court of public opinion:*87 per cent of people believe a Winnipeg police officer should go to jail for killing a mother of three following a night of drinking and partying with colleagues.bell_headshot[1].jpg *92 per cent of people say Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mark Bell should do his six-month drunk driving sentence immediately, and not after the NHL season is finished as a judge is allowing him to do*81 per cent of people said kids under the age of 12 who kill should face criminal charges. Currently the law doesn''t allow for that.*And in one of our closest votes in recent memory, 51 per cent of people believe the Canadian government should intervene and offer help to a former Winnipeg man serving a life sentence for drug dealing in a Greece prison.Feel free to keep the discussion going by posting your thoughts on these, or other issues of the day, below.And don't forget to visit the website often to cast your vote.As well, take a moment if you haven't already to sign up for my website "Mailing List". It's quick, easy and free and gets you breaking news alert on major crime and justice stories, plus exclusive previews of my national "Crime and Punishment" radio show every weekend.
  • Taking it to the streets

    front09082007.jpg I spent a night earlier this week doing something that, sadly, far too many men in this community do.Trolling the streets for sex-workers.Only I wasn't interested in buying sex. Or anything for that matter.Myself, along with reporter Gabrielle Giroday, were trying to get a better read on what goes on after dark in the city's bustling sex trade.And bustling it was. As you can read in our exclusive Saturday Free Press feature, the streets were alive with the sights of young girls peddling their wares and all-too-eager "Johns" shopping around.08a7street03bmBM[1].jpg (Click HERE to read "Fear of death all in a night's work"Click HERE to read "Victim's friend chases clues to catch killer"Click HERE to read "Dates pay the mortgage, independent call girl Maggie saysClick HERE to read "Woman found way off street, mours slaying of friend")We were surprised at how willing some of these women were to talk to us, which might be a sign that they recognize the increasing dangers they face on the streets given the fact several sex-trade workers have been slain in recent months with no arrests.Is a serial killer at work? Some women definitely think so. Yet it became painfully clear few are doing anything to protect themselves from the risks they face every night despite the fact a killer, or killers, are still out there.We saw many girls working alone, standing on dark streets with nobody around for blocks. Who would ever be able to tell police about the specifics of their last pick-up should they leave in a vehicle and never return?It was obvious that a certain paranoia about police exists and that sharing information about what they've seen is not on their list of priorities.The most common theme - which didn't come as a surprise - was the prevalence of drugs, specifically cocaine. Many women we stopped and spoke with candidly admitted they are slaves to the drug and routinely expose themselves to danger because they need to feed their addiction.I've said for several years the biggest problem in Winnipeg, and many other major Canadian cities these days, is cocaine use.Nearly every crime that occurs - from the theft of your car, break-in to your home or that drive-by shooting you read about - can be traced back to crack.It's also clear to me that government has been far too slow to respond to the needs of the community and offer the kinds of services that are desperately needed.I'm also really beginning to think we have hit a point where we must consider throwing in the towel and admit prostitution is never going to go away. That we've lost the fight, if you will, to clean up the streets.That's because the demand for paid sex will always be there. And when you have demand, supply is usually quick to follow.I admit I'm somewhat ashamed for my gender that so many of "us" feel the need to prey upon the weak and vulnerable to satisfy "our" carnal pleasures. I'd challenge any of these Johns to actually walk a mile in these girl's shoes. Or just spend a night watching and talking to them like we did.I hardly think they'd see them as easy scores. They would see them as victims, plain and simple.So what to do?Many women we spoke to on the streets this week said they believe the only way to reduce the violence is to legalize prostitution, build some safe-houses and bring in a level of control that currently doesn't exist.It's certainly not a new idea. But it sure is a controversial one.But if we truly want the killings to stop, it may be the only way.Agree or disagree? Got another idea? Post your thoughts below.
  • Chris Benoit

    chris-benoit-posters[1].jpg Some very interesting developments in the tragic Chris Benoit murder-suicide case.His father, Michael Benoit, has given medical officials the green light to examine his late son's brain.The findings - which are being released this week - are expected to confirm that years of competing as an elite pro wrestler caused all sorts of trauma that left Benoit suffering from "diminished capacity" when he killed his wife and young son earlier this summer.Will any of this change the way people look at Benoit? Probably not.Devoted fans will cling to their memories of him as a world-class athlete, while the majority of the public will still see him as some 'roided-up monster.However, this will no doubt shed new light on the long-term effects of injuries suffered by athletes, no matter what the sport.If Benoit truly was a walking time bomb based on injuries he suffered, how many others might be out there?A scary thought...
  • Hurt feelings, lost lives

    507-X00196_9[1].jpg Let me see if I have this right.A Winnipeg man kills a woman after a night of partying and drinking, slamming into the back of her car as she's stopped at a red light, and will likely not do a single day behind bars.Meanwhile, a Winnipeg man swears at a judge for a few seconds in court and is sentenced to 45 days as a result of his behaviour. (Read story HERE)Anyone else out there feel a tad uncomfortable with this????Now, I realize in some ways comparing the two cases is like apples and oranges.The foul-mouthed felon, Michael Kolba, is clearly a troubled young man with a hair-trigger temper and a violent past. As a Winnipeg courtroom heard this week, Kolba lost his cool after Judge Brian Corrin denied him bail. And although he apologized for his outburst, both the Crown and the sentencing judge, Kelly Moar, felt jail was the only fit punishment.The deadly car crasher, former Winnipeg police officer Derek Harvey-Zenk, is regarded as an upstanding citizen with no prior record who made a a terrible mistake. As a Winnipeg courtroom last week, Harvey-Zenk has already resigned from his job and now carries a heavy burden for his actions. 246-X00175_9[1].jpg The story has since taken on a life of its own over serious misconduct allegations against former East St. Paul police chief Harry Bakema and the role that may have played in drunk driving charges being dropped and the Crown recommending a conditional sentence. Chief Judge Ray Wyant has reserved his decision.Still, I can't help but feel there's something wrong with a system that will send a person to jail for hurting someone's feelings - yet keep a person in the community for stealing someone's life.The federal Conservative government has made plenty of noise recently about bringing in some mandatory minimum jail sentences for violent crimes.I personally believe that should include offences of dangerous and/or drunk driving causing death. Yet many lawyers I talk to don't think that will ever happen.Their reason? Harvey-Zenk committed what many view as a "crime of the middle class" - an otherwise law-abiding citizen making a tragic error in judgment. And the government would never want to create a situation where the Harvey-Zenk's of this world are automatically tossed in jail.Judges often talk of "specific deterrence", and it's clear jail wouldn't accomplish much in that area for most of the people who find themselves in these types of situations. I don't doubt for a second that Harvey-Zenk and so many others are racked with guilt that will never go away.Yet what about the principle of "general deterrence"? What is being done right now to scare the ^&%#$! out of others who might follow the same tragic path following a day and night of partying, drinking and sleep deprivation?It's a tough issue, one that I suspect Chief Judge Wyant is having a difficult time weighing.But judging by the volume of phone calls and e-mails I've received in the past week, the court of public opinion is definitely in session.Feel free to post your views below.
  • Seeing stars and racing cars

    Sometimes this job is just too much fun.I've got a couple events coming up - both for very good causes - that have me about as giddy as a kid at Christmas.canwest[1].jpg The first is this Thursday, Aug. 30, 1 p.m., at Canwest Global Park in Winnipeg.I'll be one of a handful of local media "celebrities" (insert laughter here) who will become the whipping boys and girls in a charity slo-pitch game against a team of past and present NHL stars, including:060505_avs_ducks_vlg10p.widec[1].jpg Teemu SelanneUlf Nilsson000305589[1].jpg Thomas SteenAnders Hedberghawerchuk1[1].jpg Dale HawerchukJordin Tootoocan_j_toews_1[1].jpg Jonathan Toewsand Dave Ellett.If this were a prize fight the judges would stop it before it even begins!However, it's a fundraiser for the Amadeus Steen Foundation and Children's Hospital, so our public flogging is all for a great cause.Tickets are only $5 (click HERE to get 'em) and the first 1,000 people get wristbands for an autograph signing session after the game (with the hockey stars, not us media slugs).Now, my dreams of taking Teemu deep, robbing Hawerchuk of a home run or stealing a base off Steen may have been dashed this past week by a very ill-timed injury.My pre-game training regiment - a leisurely Saturday afternoon jog - left me with what emergency room medical staff believe are torn ligaments in my right ankle.Therefore, depending on how the next few days go, I may be relegated to a base coach or bat boy. But I wouldn't miss taking in the game for the world, and I hope you'll join me in what should be a tremendous afternoon at the ball park.The other event, Sunday September 9, 1 p.m., at Thunder Rapids Amusement Park in Winnipeg, will see me trading my batting helmet for a racing helmet.Brennan,-Jessica,-Amber[1].jpg I'll be behind the wheel of a souped-up Go-Kart, along with several colleagues from the Free Press, taking on teams from other media outlets in a high-speed race to the finish line.Apparently we'll also be dodging a steady stream of water balloons being hurled our way, all in the name of raising funds and awareness for Huntington's Disease.The "media challenge" races actually cap off a weekend of activities, with other family fun planned for September 8. Call Vern Barrett at 694-1779 for more information.Get your motor runnin' and see you at the track! Admission is free.I actually keep a running list of public activities - which mostly involve radio and television interviews but also public speaking engagements and book signings - on my www.mikeoncrime.com website.Click HERE to view all events, past and present.

About Mike McIntyre

Journalist, national radio show host, author, pundit and cruise director ... Mike McIntyre loves to keep busy.

Mike is the justice reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, where he has worked since 1997. He produces and hosts the weekly talk radio show Crime and Punishment, which runs on the Corus Radio Network in several Canadian cities.

Born and bred in Winnipeg, Mike graduated from River East Collegiate and completed his journalism studies in the Creative Communications program at Red River College.

He and his wife, Chassity, have two children.

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